Today was an ordinary day, but more like the kind of ordinary day I used to have months ago.
Things have gone quite quiet in the voice over front recently, and most of my jobs and meetings have taken place online. So today was a little bit different, and a little bit familiar, strangely enough.
In the morning I went to the technical rehearsal of a little piece I am directing as part of a larger project. (Check out Scene and Heard’s website for an overview of this very original way of nurturing children’s imaginations and skills.) I love going back to this company, which I have been involved in since 1999. I love trying to figure out how the lighting cues, the sound effects and the actors all need to co-ordinate to produce the strangest, weirdest of moments created by a nine year old boy.
Time really flew at the rehearsal. Coming back to directing was delightful. I’d forgotten how beautiful it is to be able to bring lots of different people together to create something for the audience’s pleasure.
Following this short session in Mornington Crescent in North London I went over to Soho to have lunch before my voice-over job. I went to Old Compton Street and entered one of the newest Japanese restaurants there. I sat down, ordered the Bento box that was advertised at the window for £7.50 and… I got up and left.
When I ordered my Bento box without a drink attached to it (the miso soup was going to be enough), I was informed by the very sweet and slightly embarrassed waiter that the minimum order for lunch was £10. I got up and left.
We’re in the middle of Soho, lunch deals for under £10 are not unheard-of. Just out of principle I am not going to go into a place where there is a minimum expenditure of £10.
This is something that some restaurants don’t understand. People who go out of fun to eat out I do not like to be taken for a ride. Just last weekend, my husband and I vowed never to go back to a local restaurant we were quite fond of. A Persian restaurant in the area of Ravenscourt Park, which is often empty (quite unfortunately because the lamb chops there are the best in town and the food is actually really good) refused to serve us tap water the other day.
“It’s only 1 pound for some still water,” the waiter said.
We had just left another restaurant because there was an unpleasantly strong smell of fish sauce, so we were in no mood to leave again. We ordered the bottle of water and plenty of food.
When the bill came with a 12% service charge, we tried to explain to the waiter that it was really not on to be charging for tap water in this day and age.
“In some restaurants,” I said, trying to explain how the more busy restaurants in the area operated, “they bring water to the table without you even asking for it.”
“Oh,” the waiter said. “In some restaurants, this is not some restaurants.”
We were trying to explain to the waiter that what they were doing was not good for business.
My husband tried a different explanation.
“We come here often, we’re just asking for tap water, we can’t see why you can’t serve us that.”
“Oh,” the waiter said. “If I give you tap water I have to give everyone tap water.”
We looked around, we were the only ones in the restaurant, as wasoften was the case.
We said goodbye. Forever.
“I really don’t get what’s going on in this city at the moment,” I said to myself as I walked into Eat Tokyo, round the corner from the Japanese restaurant with the £10 minimum charge. Great service, tap water and plenty of food for under a tenner.
Following a values-based lunch, I headed over to Angel sound, for my voice-over job. As I sat in reception waiting, I remembered fondly that this was actually the first studio where I recorded my very first demo tape. Yes, a tape. That’s how far back I could take you if I started telling you my voice over and benches. (If you are indeed interested in that part of my life, check out Hi, I’m Here for a Recording, the ordinary life of a voiceover artist.)
The job was relatively short and pretty straightforward. It was a “mood film “for a new soft drink. I did my job, I seem to do it well enough in a very short space of time, and when I came out… The producer actually hugged me. He must have been expecting a long and painful session and was glad to have struck gold in twenty minutes…
I left with a big smile; it’s not often that a client hugs you after a job, especially one that actually, was not that painful. I walked to Piccadilly to get the tube, happy that I hadn’t been caught by the rain.
As the Piccadilly line emerged outdoors into Barons Court I heard my phone vibrate. Voicemail.
“Pilar, they need you to go back and record.” I phoned the agent back.
“Do they need me right now?”
“Yes, if you could…”
“Okay, I’m just running over to the other platform to hop onto the tube back into town!”
By the time I emerged out of Oxford Circus, my luck had run out and I got caught in the rain, umbrella-less.
I got to the studio, read one line that the client thought had been removed from the script, and that was that. 45 minutes later and I was back home.
Quite an ordinary day, and a really good one.